JWG (jwg) wrote,

Pete Seeger: The Power of Song

Last night we watched our Tivoed American Masters episode on Pete Seeger. It was most enjoyable and was a pretty good history lesson. This guy is a great example of a person who always stood up for what he believed and really did use the power of song to get people involved in issues. He's always been very direct and humble. I was thinking as I watched it that he should have gotten a Nobel Peace Prize

His own reply to being asked
What do you think of the new documentary?
Well, it’s too much a eulogy if you ask me. It didn’t tell all the stupid things I’ve done. I’ve done hundreds of stupid things.

HUAC Testimony section
MR. TAVENNER: Mr. Seeger, prior to your entry in the service in 1942, were you engaged in the practice of your profession in the area of New York?

MR. SEEGER: It is hard to call it a profession. I kind of drifted into it and I never intended to be a musician, and I am glad I am one now, and it is a very honorable profession, but when I started out actually I wanted to be a newspaperman, and when I left school --

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Will you answer the question, please?

MR. SEEGER: I have to explain that it really wasn't my profession, I picked up a little change in it.

CHAIRMAN WALTER: Did you practice your profession?

MR. SEEGER: I sang for people, yes, before World War II, and I also did as early as 1925.

MR. TAVENNER: And upon your return from the service in December of 1945, you continued in your profession?

MR. SEEGER: I continued singing, and I expect I always will.

When I was in about 5th grade at a middle school assembly (~1949) this unknown folk singer came to school and sung. His brother, John Seeger, was the geography teacher at school so that was the connection. John was a great teacher - later went on to be a principal and he ran a summer camp to which I went and later was a councillor there. Pete did visit the camp once; his kids, Dan and Mika, who are on the film went there while I was working there. Needless to say there was lots of folk singing at this camp and I did buy a banjo and learned to play it using Pete's book How to Play the 5-string banjo. I still have the book and the banjo - the neck is a bit warped and I haven't touched it in years.

I did visit his house in Beacon once - he wasn't there, but a friend of mine (co-councillor and banjo player) was house sitting.

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